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Hearing planned on Rumney complaints about Groton wind farm

GROTON – The state’s Site Evaluation Committee will hold a public hearing in October on complaints from Rumney that the new Groton wind farm has varied from its permitted plans in relocating a building and in not keeping up roads leading to its wind towers.

The meeting will address the complaints and the responses from the wind farm’s owners. At the meeting, a new maintenance and safety plan for the turbine roads will likely be established, said Timothy Drew, the SEC’s administrator.

Rumney officials are concerned because the wind farm refuses to plow the roads to its turbines in winter months, they say, making it impossible to reach parts of Groton that Rumney is required to cover in an emergency.

“The town of Rumney is responsible for responding to emergencies to that part of Groton,” selectmen wrote to the SEC on Jan. 16. “Those roads need to be plowed, sanded and accessible for emergency vehicles.”

And one Rumney resident, James Buttolph, claims that the construction of wind farm’s maintenance building and two of its turbines may have violated wetland permits and “did not comport” with the SEC’s approved plans.

The wind farm company, Groton Wind LLC and its parent, Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Spain, says its maintenance building at 590 Groton Hollow Road was only slightly relocated, and the change was approved by the state.

And in a January response to Rumney’s complaint about the road maintenance, Iberdrola’s Doren Emmett said the company “is concerned with ensuring that there is appropriate access to the wind farm.”

“Having said that, plowing on steep grade roads creates a safety concern, increases the concentration of spring melt runoff and would be extremely costly,” Emmett wrote to the SEC.

“As such, turbine access during winter months will be provided by a snow cat or similar vehicle.”

Drew said road maintenance was addressed in the original permits for the wind farm, “but perhaps the issue was not adequately addressed,” he said.

All of the issues will be addressed at the hearing on Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. at the offices of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission in Concord, Drew said.

On May 6, 2011, the SEC granted a permit to Iberdrola Renewables through its local company, Groton Wind, for a 24-turbine, 48-megawatt wind farm.

The wind farm went online in December.